Presidential Action Taken On Infant Baby Formula Shortage

Maryland Department of Health says it’s working to make sure there’s enough infant formula for parents

Baltimore, Md. (KM) – The President has invoked the Defense Production Act to speed up the manufacture of infant formula, and has authorized flights to import formula from overseas.

The Maryland Department of Health says the state is keeping up to date on how this development will affect the shortage of infant formula. “We are watching and waiting to see how that will impact the ability for Maryland families to be able to get formula for their children now, for their infants now,” says Dr. Jinlene Chan, the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health.

She says the Women with Infant Children (WIC) program has been working with families having difficulty finding formula for their babies. There are also infants  who need special formulas.. “Those have sometimes been harder to find and so our WIC program works very closely and individually with families to identify what their needs are as well as to locate formulas,” says Dr. Chan.

The shortage began earlier this year after Abbott, a baby formula manufacturer, shut down its plant in Sturgis, Michigan  due to contamination problems. The US Food and Drug Administration began investigating  four bacterial infections among infants who consumed formula made the company’s Sturgis  manufacturing plant. Two babies died.

Abbott says it has reached an agreement with the FDA to resume production, but no timeline was set. The company says it may take several weeks after it restarts production before baby formula begins appearing on store shelves.

Meanwhile, if you’re a parent who needs  infant formula and cannot find it, you can contact your local WIC office, or call 1-800-242-4842. If you’re not a WIC member, you can call that number to learn how to apply, or if you are eligible for benefits.

Dr. Chan says you can also contact your pediatrician for more information.

She also advises parents not to dilute the formula to stretch the supply. “If they {babies} only basically receive watered down formula, than too much water can actually be dangerous and a medical emergency for infants if that’s diluted into formula,”: she says.

And Dr. Chan says don’t mix up a homemade formula as it may lack critical nutrients babies need. “They grow very quickly and so they need a lot of calories and also the appropriate minerals and vitamins. And all of  that is put together in a specific formula,”: she says.

“MDH is working with federal, state, local and community partners to ensure Maryland families with newborns and infants have the information they need regarding options during this national formula shortage and recalls,” said Maryland Department of Health Secretary Dennis Schrader, in a statement. “We will continue to monitor all aspects of the formula shortage and encourage families to access the numerous resources available to stay up to date.”

By Kevin McManus